What a sweet life we live!
People who are stressed out by Yom Kippur have never had the privilege of learning what Yom Kippur is all about. That's understandable; no one ever explained the true and simple meaning of Yom Kippur to them. With Hashem's help, let's rectify that.
Imagine that a person has just been tried and convicted by a judge and jury of a dozen counts of the worst felonies imaginable. He now faces sentencing, which could be anywhere from 35 years to life imprisonment, with minuscule chances for parole.
During his first depressing day in jail, where he begins his nervous 10-day countdown until his sentencing hearing, the jailer summons our “hero”, and says that the prisoner-rehabilitation officer wants to speak to him. Bewildered, not knowing what to expect and with hands bound, he followed the jailer to the office of the rehab officer.
Unlike everyone else in the penal system, the rehab officer had a kind face and a warm smile. He motioned for the jailer to leave the room. Now, alone with the prisoner, the rehab officer offered his “guest” a warm cup of tea and some home-baked oatmeal cookies. Astonished, the prisoner thought he was dreaming. Is this prison? Cinnamon tea and oatmeal cookies? Maybe they're just fattening me up for the slaughter...
As he read the prisoner's mind, the rehab officer said, “Don't be afraid – drink the tea and enjoy the cookies. Meanwhile, I have a deal for you that you won't be able to refuse.” He opened the prisoner's file, which was just about as thick as the Metropolitan New York phone book, and reviewed the prisoner's infamous past.
“If we go the conventional route, you'll be growing old within these reinforced concrete walls,” said the rehab officer, as the prisoner listened dejectedly. “But, alongside the conventional route where there's little chance of parole, there's a fast lane to a complete and total presidential pardon...”
The prisoner sat up in his chair with wide-open eyes. Could it be? How could 35 years to life be erased in one fell swoop?
“You see,” explained the rehab officer, according to your psychiatric profile, you have one core problem that is the root of all your crimes. If we can show the court that you've been counseled, treated, and completely rehabilitated, then a complete presidential pardon is guaranteed.
“Do you mean that I can change overnight?”
“Not completely, “ said the rehab officer. “no one changes overnight. But, as soon as you recognize your problem, admit to your weakness and shortcoming, and do your utmost to rectify, the court will recommend a total pardon for you. You'll be a free man, but you must commit with all your heart to occupy yourself with good endeavors and make crime a figment of the past. Do you agree?”
* * *
Who would be the fool that wouldn't agree? Does our above parable seem to be something from Fantasy Land in Disney World? It's not at all.
Also featured this week (alphabetically, according to authors):
Rabbi Shalom Arush: The Sweet Life
Dr. Zev Ballen: Sigh-cotherapy
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: The Right Way to Cry
Rabbi David Charlop: Symphony for the Soul
Rivka Levy: Bandits in the Forest
Chaya Ovadia: Taking the Plunge
Racheli Reckles: What Women Want
Big Beam blessings for a wonderful week, a meaningful Yom Kippur, and an easy fast.